Tommy Mottola enters the 'No Spin Zone'

Former CEO of Sony Music responds to a Democrat friendly music industry


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 8, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight, there is no question that the pop music industry is helping the Democratic Party big time. In the last presidential election Bruce Springsteen Jay-Z, Mariah Carey all either gave big money to the Democrats or actually campaigned for the president. Now, the pop world has lost some luster in America as radio stations are now fragmented. But still a very powerful industry. Earlier this week I talked with Tommy Mottola, former CEO of "Sony Music" who's written a new book called "Hitmaker: The Man and His Music."


O'REILLY: So I want to get some insight into the minds of these big pop, rock performers. Give a person like Bruce Springsteen middle class, he becomes a giant liberal guy. But he's a big fundraising guy for the president. And he's very outspoken.

TOMMY MOTTOLA, AUTHOR OF "HITMAKER: THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC": Well, I tend to think that most of the artists look at things these days through that lens.

O'REILLY: But it did change. A guy like Elvis Presley coming up in the '50s, was a traditional guy. And then the '60s came in, and everything changed.


The music industry has never gotten away from that.

MOTTOLA: Well, it's sort of been part of the tag of the culture. I think along with the music came a lot of the parties and the rock and roll part and all the things you have heard about and read about whether it's "The Rolling Stones" or lots of those things that people have heard about.

O'REILLY: These people are all crazy. They are all nuts.


O'REILLY: I mean, Michael Jackson kills himself, right? Elvis pretty much killed himself. Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, the list is endless, Jimi Hendrix. They never seem to learn.

MOTTOLA: It's hard to predict and to say what goes on inside the minds of an artist, but that's what makes them an artist. That sense of creativity. That thing that makes them tick is probably the very thing that pushes them to the extremes that sometimes can cause, you know, fatalities and things that, you know, that end up not being good.

O'REILLY: What was the most dynamic talent that you saw? Because you basically are a guy who is looking for the next big thing in rock.

MOTTOLA: When I came to Sony I signed Mariah Carey.


MOTTOLA: I had the chance to work with Michael Jackson who was as brilliant as they come.


O'REILLY: But you couldn't get through to him on the social level though?

MOTTOLA: Well, it wasn't my job to get through to him. My job was to get the best possible music that he could make and that I could sell for him. That was really what my role was.

O'REILLY: Was that a difficult process?

MOTTOLA: It wasn't easy. It could take years sometimes.

O'REILLY: Years?

MOTTOLA: Yeah, you know, it's like any artist. You can paint many canvasses, but then you may labor over one canvas that could take forever.

O'REILLY: See, I'm an artist and I do this every day and I just go home.



O'REILLY: You know -- you know, because if I'm laboring over the canvas, the show doesn't get on the air.

MOTTOLA: I should be managing you.

O'REILLY: Now, you discovered Mariah Carey and actually married her. All right?

MOTTOLA: We signed her when she was 19 years old. She catapulted to super stardom very quickly. By the time she was 21 she had already won two Grammies, and, you know, then continued a path of having number one records, 17 number one records in a row.

O'REILLY: And then it all blows up. She has to now reinvent herself.


O'REILLY: Beyonce lip-synchs the national anthem.

MOTTOLA: No big deal.


MOTTOLA: I think that the technical aspects of whatever goes on in D.C., it makes it very difficult for anybody to sing. And she probably made the call, this is going to be best suited for what I'm going to do. But Beyonce is one of the greatest singers and talents in the world.


O'REILLY: Two more questions.


O'REILLY: For me the best rock person ever, Elvis.


O'REILLY: Stage presence, command, everything.

MOTTOLA: Everything that he did.

O'REILLY: Do you agree with me the best?

MOTTOLA: 100 percent.


MOTTOLA: It was riveting for me and it made me want to do what I ended up doing.

O'REILLY: "Beatles," obviously the most successful group of all time.


O'REILLY: But it was something else there. Do you know what it is?

MOTTOLA: It was a catalyst of fashion and music and the drug culture and everything that was going on at the time. And they represented that.

O'REILLY: Did they do anything themselves? The four of them?

MOTTOLA: Um-huh.

O'REILLY: To be considered the greatest rock group, pop group of all time? Or as you say, did they just hit it right?

MOTTOLA: I think it's the combination of both.


MOTTOLA: And I think it was the perfect timing and then there was a consistency of what they did ...


MOTTOLA: When they were together.

O'REILLY: But you know what's fascinating, is Billy Joel is a friend of mine. We were both brought up in Levittown as you know. All of them have a run of hits ...


O'REILLY: ... that they hear in their mind. Billy told me I hear it in my mind ...


O'REILLY: ... and then it stops.

MOTTOLA: Yes. Everybody -- there is a burst of energy that comes when your dreams and all the aspirations that you think about are there. It's different after you've done it. It changes.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Mottola, thanks for coming in. We appreciate it, fascinating book.

MOTTOLA: Thank you.

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